Faith Hero's

November 10, 2013    Hebrews 12     

 

   Monday is Veterans Day.   I guess it reminds me that there are some veterans in the bible.   Hebrews 12:1 talks about that great cloud of witnesses.   These hero’s of the faith in Hebrews 11 testify to us that we can make it.   They testify that God is faithful and that they endured terrible and difficult things in their life and persevered.  The cloud of witnesses does not mean that these people are in heaven watching us or like they are in a sports arena looking on and watching us.    The meaning is that they bear witness that God can see us through.   How can they bear witness because they have been through the mill and their lives witness that God was faithful to see them through and He can help us through the battles?  Romans 15:4 is a great verse regarding the importance of reading the OT.  It says for everything that was written in the past was written to teach us so that through endurance and the encouragement of the scriptures we might have hope.    These words are for our encouragement and to help us endure and persevere.  

      These men and women of Hebrews 11 had similar passions like we do.    James tells us that Elijah was a man of like passions as us but he prayed and it did not rain and then he prayed and it rained.   Many of these people stumbled and fell.  They experienced those sins that so easily beset us.  But they got up and they persevered and became a hero of the faith.   Think of the perseverance of Noah.   He built that ark for 120 years.   That is a chunk of your life folks.   For 120 years he built that ark while everyone around him laughed.   He preached but none of them responded as far as we know because they perished.    He is a hero of the faith because he persevered.  How would we look upon him today if he quit?   Where would we be toady if he gave up?   It is believed that it never rained on the earth to this point.  Can you picture him at 100 years old?   Man I have been building this ark for 100 years.   Is it ever going to end?   God uses ordinary people who want to be used.   God uses ordinary people and through Him he makes them into heroes of faith.   Chapter 11 of Hebrews is still being written today by your life.  God is able to do abundantly above all that we ask or even think.   He is the miracle maker. 

    Ed Wood contributed this illustration.   In the 1986 New York City Marathon, almost 20,000 runners entered the race. What is memorable is not who won, but who finished last.   His name was Bob Wieland.    He finished 19,413th—dead last.  Bob completed the New York marathon in 4 days, 2 hours, 47 minutes, and 17 seconds.  It was unquestionably the slowest marathon in history—ever.    So, what is it that made Bob Wieland’s marathon so special?   Bob ran with his arms.  17 years earlier while in Vietnam, Bob’s legs were blown off in battle.  He sits on a 15 pound saddle and covers his fists with pads. He uses his arms to catapult himself forward one arm-length at a time. He can run a mile in an hour. That is real endurance in the face of adversity.  

     We are in a race and it is not a 50 yard dash.  It is a marathon.   It is not a quick sprint.  Two gas company service men, a senior training Supervisor and a young trainee were out checking meters and parked their truck at the end of the alley and worked their way to the other end. At the last house a woman looking out her kitchen window watched the two men as they checked her gas meter. As they finished the meter check the older supervisor challenged his younger co-worker to a foot race down the alley back to the truck.   As they came running up to the truck, they realized that the lady from the last house was huffing and puffing right behind them. They stopped and asked her what was wrong. Gasping for breath she said, "When I see two gas men running full speed away from my house, I figured I had better run too."    She was running for all she was worth but she misguided.   A lot of folks running today but may not know where or what they are running nor where they are going.   Heaven is Christian’s ultimate destination.   Jesus is our destination

    In verse 1 scripture tells us to throw off that which hinders us.  Throw it off and get rid of it.  I have been working to clean up some clutter that has accumulated.   Some of it on my desk and in my bedroom.  Our walk with the Lord can be cluttered.    What is hindering your walk with the Lord today?   Is our life filled with God?   Are you filling yourself with prayer and with reading the scripture?   Some things that may hinder perhaps would not be considered sin.  They can be good things that are the enemy of the best.   In this complicated world that we live in today our real goal can be lost because we are buried with things and with stuff.  I am not content where I am at with the Lord.  I hope you are not.  I trust we are striving to draw nearer to Jesus.  Nearer my God to thee the song writer wrote.   A young man was in church one day and beautiful girl sat next to him in the pew.  She was attractive with blond hair and blue eyes and she had a pleasant smile.   So the young man flips through the hymnal and found the song I need thee every hour and handed her the book.   She fervently rifles through the hymnal and finds a hymn and hands it to the boy.   The hymn title said I’d rather have Jesus.   I like to take a few minutes in the morning and just pray Lord I need you today.  I do not want to go through today without you.   I counseled someone this week and told them to do something that I really had not thought through on.   It was the rush of the moment and instead of saying let’s pray and think about it for awhile – we rushed into it.   They did what I told them to do.  God worked all the details out and it turned out OK but boy we need God’s wisdom.  We need Him.  

    The men and women of the bible stumbled and fell and they got up and kept going.   It is not always the fastest or the smartest that wins.   It is the guy or gal who believes and keeps at it. Contributed by: Phillip Williamson    A few years ago, at the 2002 Winter Olympics, there were five finalists for the Men’s 1000 Meter Speed Skating Race. During the final lap, the American and Chinese were out front with the Canadian and Korean skaters hot on their heels. Australia trailed behind obviously destined for last place. As they came around the last curve for the final straightaway stretch, everyone gathered around our television were on the edge of their seats cheering for America to pull out in front. The winner would receive the Olympic Gold medal. 

      Suddenly, the Chinese skater slightly bumped the American and sent both of them careening into the wall as they spun out of control. With no time or space to get out of their way, the tangled mess caused the Canadian and Korean skaters to also spin out of control and join them in a tangled heap of arms and legs.  The Australian skater pushed by the heap and shouted to the top of his lungs as he crossed the finish line, “Gold! I won the Gold!”  This was so great!   You see, he won the Gold for no other reason than he crossed the finish line!   He finished the race! He was not the fastest.   He did not set any records. He just simply didn’t quit or get tangled up in the mess around him.  Jesus finished the race set before him. 

        Are you encouraged that Jesus has gone before us?    Have you been encouraged that Jesus experienced temptation?   Jesus was tempted in all points like we are but lived a sinless life.    God not only wants us to take encouragement from those that have gone before us but God reminds us that Jesus always walked in victory.   We can gain strength form keeping our eyes upon Jesus.  Jesus is the crowning one and he is over all the hero’s in chapter 11.    When things get tough the bible tells to fix our eyes upon Jesus.   He suffered incredible pain and He endured.  Jesus focused on the joy that was set before Him.   He endured the cross and scorned the shame of the cross.   He scorned the ridicule and humility of being nailed on a tree as a common criminal.   He resisted sin to the point of shedding blood.   Jesus suffered and it is very plain that we will struggle with temptation.           I Peter 4:12 Dear friends do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering.   Are you struggling?   Do not be surprised.   Are you surprised that you struggle in your faith?    God tells us here that in our struggle we have not resisted to the point of shedding blood.  Jesus went through far more suffering and struggle against sin than we ever will.   When you struggle it helps to look at Jesus.  Put your eyes on God submit to God and resist the devil and the devil will flee.   Sometimes it seems like Satan hangs around a lot longer than I would like him to.  To look at Jesus means to trust him.   Looking at Jesus means to trust and rest in Him.  

    When the Children of Israel sinned in the wilderness in the Old Testament God sent snakes among them and God gave them a simple remedy when they were bitten so that they would not die.   A statue of a snake was put up in the camp.   When the snake bitten Jews looked at the bronze serpent that was lifted up on a pole they were saved and pointed to Jesus.   We keep looking up to Jesus.   Jesus said if I am lifted up I will draw men to me.  Trusting Jesus releases power and blessing in our lives.   All of the great men and women of God struggled in their life.    Paul was whipped, stoned, shipwrecked, and had plots against his life.   He was often beaten and in the middle of riots.  We are in a race.  Let us run with perseverance.  

      Discipleship Journal, 11-12/92  A recent survey of Discipleship Journal readers ranked areas of greatest spiritual challenge to them:  1. Materialism 2. Pride  3. Self-centeredness  4. Laziness  5. (Tie) Anger/Bitterness  6. Envy   7. Gluttony  8. Lying   Survey respondents noted temptations were more potent when they had neglected their time with God (81 percent) and when they were physically tired (57 percent). Resisting temptation was accomplished by prayer (84 percent), avoiding compromising situations (76 percent), Bible study (66 percent), and being accountable to someone (52 percent).  Life can be a drain.  Jesus told us to pray to God that we would; not be led into temptation. 

     Scripture here tells us that Jesus is the author and finisher of our faith.     What is salvation?   How do we get saved?   Well scriptures tell us to trust the Lord.   We totally trust Jesus to save us.   We do not expect that we will be saved by good deeds or good works.   It is not what I have done but what Jesus has done for me.  We trust his grace.   We trust Jesus mercy.   We trust in his blood.   We do not trust in our deeds.   We do not trust in our abilities.   We do not trust in the thought that God grades on a curve and therefore I am good enough to be saved.   It is Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.   I think that is pretty cool.   Our salvation is in Jesus.   It is not because I have am a church member.  It is not because I have been baptized.  Baptism does not save me.  Being born in a garage does not make me a car and being born in a Christian family does not save me.   It is my choice to be saved.   This passage tells us Jesus is the author and perfector of your faith.  It is all about Jesus.  We need to consider Jesus so that we do not grow weary and loose heart.   Keep your upon Jesus look full in his wonderful grace and the things of the world will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace the songwriter wrote.  

     Then this passage talks about discipline.   A good father disciplines his child and God is a good father.    "My son, do not make light of the Lord’s discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes everyone he accepts as a son . . . Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. - Hebrews 12:5-11   When God chastens us or corrects us it is proof of His love.   God loves you.  If God has corrected you lately it proves you are his child.   The Holy Spirit correction of us is perfect.   It is made to fit us correctly and perfectly.  We should not seek to avoid His chastening and correction but welcome it so we can grow.    .   Scripture says God corrects HIS children      God corrects His children – Christians.     The Hall of Fame, ex-coach of the Dallas Cowboys, the late Tom Landry once said, "The job of a coach is to make men do what they do not want to do, in order that they can be what they’ve always wanted to be.    That is what God does.